One fine afternoon back in the summer of 1991, my friend Arlee and I were driving northbound on Highland Avenue in Hollywood. Just past the intersection of Highland and Hollywood Boulevard was, at that time, a closed gas station and a large vacant lot next to it. (Now, the parcel is part of the huge Hollywood Galaxy complex.) Traffic along Highland was bottlenecked as usual. We cruised quite slowly past the gas station and I saw that a large flea market had been set up at the gas station lot and in the vacant lot next to it.
My eyes scoured the lot for anything interesting. I didnt know what I expected to see since we were clear over on the other side of a 6-lane avenue and the flea market tents and booths were situtated some distance from the curb. But I scanned anyway. When I saw two suspicious-looking handles sticking up I yelled to Arlee Stop the car! He rounded the corner and parked, and we hurried over there. (He loves flea markets too, but not for vacuum cleaners!)
I made my way to the booth where I saw the handles and, lo and behold, there were two old vacuum cleaners: An ancient- and primitive-looking Hoover, older than anything I had ever seen (keep in mind this was when I had just started collecting, really, and had just met Stan Kann only a couple weeks prior had not yet been to his house), and an old Premier.
Both machines looked really nice. However, I was not all THAT interested in them since at that point I really only fancied Kirbys and Electroluxes. But I asked the man what he wanted for them. When he said fifty bucks each I literally laughed out loud!
I exclaimed, with great righteous indignation, You gotta be kidding! Who do you think would spend that kind of money on vacuums that are that old?! You certainly could not use them for cleaning!
I then told him my standard white lie that I use when I dont want to tip people off that I am a collector, lest their machines suddenly become more valuable than all the gold in King Solomons mines! I said that I am a photographer and would like to use them as props for a shoot. (This really IS just a little white lie ... I am a photographer, of sorts, and I certainly do use old vacuum cleaners in photo shoots, haha!!)
I continued, Ill give you ten bucks each for them, which I am sure is more than anyone else has offered. It's the end of the day, and they're still standing here aren't they.
He hemmed and hawwed, looked around, looked at his watch, then said, Fifteen each and they're yours. Even though thats less than I paid for em!
Well, he did seem a nice guy so what the heck, I took them. Arlee, of course, thought I had gone off my rocker and said, Youre not putting those old things in the house! They may be full of germs!!
I asked him to please stop bugging me about that you could tell that the machines both were very clean and in good condition: Neither of them even had any dirt in the bag.
Well, I got them home, I did bring them inside, with Arlee mumbling the usual threats about One of these days I'm gonna throw all these @$^#$ $@#%@#@ vacuums in the trash. I plugged them in and fired them up one at a time. I was not the least bit surprised to find that they both ran perfectly.
A week or so later I had my first chance to meet Stan in person. When I went to his house and saw all those beautiful 1920s and early 1930s vacuum cleaners, most of them in mint condition and all original, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I told him about the Hoover I had found, and by my description he was able to deduce that its a 541.
He then showed me his 541, and I noted several differences. Mainly that the handle on mine is natural wood and his is painted black, that mine has a silver cloth-covered cord and his is black rubber, and that mine had a silver bag made out of a silky material and his had a black bag. He was quite keen to see mine, so in a weeks time I came over with it.
He looked it over and said, Well, someone has changed it all around its all wrong! That bag and bag slider arrangement is MUCH older. [His 541 had a 543 bag on it.] And the 541 never had an unfinished handle or a silver cord like that!
I was a little disappointed by his assessment of course, but I didnt, like, lose my mind over it. I liked the way it looked, very old fashioned and primitive, looking more like some old piece of farm machinery than a vacuum cleaner! So I have kept it the way I found it.
I will say that the instruction book (which I found later) does describe how the bag slides up and down on a long metal clip and as you will see, thats exactly what this one does, even though Stan said it was from an earlier model. I am sure someone out there will know.
He also showed me something very interesting about that model you can remove the top cap and then by loosening two screws inside there on the top of the motor, you can rotate the metal ring that holds the carbon brushes in place, and by doing so can alter the speed of the motor! You will see photos and videos of that directly.
"On With The Show!"
Want to see and
hear the 541 in action
|Hoover Model 475|
|Hoover Model 700 Special|
|Hoover Model 541|
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